- Sarah Bixby Smith Smith, Wellesley Class of 1894
- Rebecca Lee Dorsey, Enrolled at Wellesley from 1878 to 1880
“With great delight each June, I left Massachusetts, beautiful to look upon, intolerable to live in, to go back to California’s comfortable southwest coast.”
By Lorine Parks, Wellesley Class of 1953 | June 30, 2021
Who was this California girl, Sarah Bixby, born in 1871, Class of 1894?
Her sister Anne, class of 1898, and cousin Fanny 1902, followed her to Wellesley. Her granddaughter Margaret Mahaney 1955, and great-granddaughter Marilyn Boyle 1986, are both living. Prim bios don’t do Sarah justice.
Sarah was heiress to the Bixby land holdings, a prominent writer and activist. Adobe Days, her memoir of growing up in southern California, considered a classic of the genre, is still available at Amazon. She married twice and divorced twice, once with scandal attached, both times to ministers named Smith. She wrote a feminist manifesto but had to publish it under her second husband’s name.
What was Los Angeles like in 1890, when Sarah left? And what was it like, the Wellesley that she found? And why Wellesley, for this California girl?
Please stay tuned for the 125th Anniversary Magazine where you can read Sarah's full story.
By Lorine Parks, Wellesley Class of 1953 | July 25, 2021
Enrolled at Wellesley College from 1878 to 1880 and graduated from Boston University School of Medicine in 1882, Rebecca Lee Dorsey was a woman of many firsts. She was the first to receive a scholarship. She was the first Wellesley graduate to become a physician. She was the first woman to practice in Los Angeles, going on to deliver Earl Warren, who later became the 30th governor of California as well as the 14th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. When she retired from medicine at her farm in Indio Valley, she also became a pioneer in date farming in California.
Rebecca came to California after a mentor had advised her that even though she had immense expertise, she would continually be fighting for acceptance in the east, while on the west coast, she would be a novel phenomenon.
In addition to having her own medical practice and working at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Los Angeles, she made house calls every Wednesday morning in a red-wheeled buggy pulled by a mare named Molly, heading west on Pico Boulevard toward Hollywood. Through binoculars, she searched over the orange trees for a flag flying upside-down, which signified that one of her patients needed her services.
Please stay tuned for the 125th Anniversary Magazine where you can read Rebecca's full story.